Needed: Responsible govt. not federalism
Posted on October 17th, 2017

By Dr Kamal Wickremasinghe Courtesy The Island

The fundamentally flawed nature of the draft constitution to be debated in parliament makes a clause by clause analysis an exercise in futility. The basic problem, in a nutshell, is that the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly (the committee) is asking the Sri Lankan nation to place its trust in a fully devolved political structure. The problem is that the idea of federalism the committee has adopted is founded on a model advocated by dishonest international forces with vested interests.

A brief look into the committee’s version of federalism points to a linguistics issue related to the discernment of the shades of meaning associated with the word federalism, cunningly exploited by neocolonialists to suit their needs. In a general sense, the draft constitution also demonstrates the critical effect language plays in constructing our understanding of the universe around us.

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A study of the different forms of the international political organisation labelled ‘federalism’ in operation shows that the word federalism falls in to the category of words and phrases in the English language called contronyms. Words having contradictory meanings in different contexts. To cite a few examples, the word ‘custom’ can mean a common practice, or a special treatment; ‘bound’ can mean heading to a destination or restrained from movement. Sanction can mean to approve as well as to boycott, and ‘trip’, a journey, or a stumble.

It appears that the word federalism similarly can mean ‘a federal political order set up by constitutionally dividing powers of a sovereign, unitary state between largely self-governing small units’ as well as ‘a federal state created out of a group of smaller states who willingly accept the dominance of a central federal government’. The multitude of micro states made (in the 20th century out of former colonies) fall in to the first category, whereas the often cited ‘success stories’ of federalism such as the US, Australia and Canada fall into the latter. Understanding this difference is central to seeing the dangers posed by the current constitution proposal.

A review of the history and current practice of federalism in countries like the US, Australia and Canada shows that the particular brand of federalism practised in these countries is in fact, the opposite of the form the committee is recommending to Sri Lankans. The particular form of federalism in operation in these countries refers to a federal union in which the national Constitution gives the central government control over matters of common concern to the country as a whole, permitting the constituent regional political communities to regulate matters only of local concern. Such arrangements reflect the joining of regional, smaller groups involved for the common good, based on shared racial and nationalist sentimentsin the cases of the US and Australia.

The committee has obviously adopted the contrary definition according to which federalism involves ‘breaking up of a unitary state to grant substantial authority to a number of regional governments’. They seem to believe that the devolution of power under such an ‘expanded’ arrangement (as compared to the current level of s13 devolution) is the cure for all national ills of Sri Lanka. In adopting this view, the committee has obviously fallen prey to the deceptive use of language by neocolonialist forces whopromote federalism — in the sense of diminution of states to smaller units — as panacea for ethnic problems faced by former colonies while they themselves are moving towards increased amalgamation.

A historical, socio-political analysis of federalism of the kind found in the US and other former European colonised lands shows that the idea originated as a means to enable military functions associated with the colonialist territorial expansion and consolidation. In the case of the US, it was the battles for territory among a variety of groups from England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands who independently invaded eastern North America in the late 16th century, which later led to colonial moves of federalisation among ‘like’ groups to ward off the threat of war by rival colonial powers. The structure later evolved to broader ‘federations’ against native forces who posed a common threat to colonisers as well as to facilitate freer trade amongst the coloniser groups.

The motivations of federalisation in Africa were similar. In their infamous ‘Scramble for Africa’ in the late 19th century, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Italy rivalled each other to expand invaded territories by drawing arbitrary boundaries. The new boundaries ignored the demographic, ethnographic and topographic factors upon which land had been partitioned historically. Such newly formed territories gradually developed in to European ethnic enclaves, with territorial conflict among them being a constant feature until they began settlement through Treaty, in the face of collective resistance from the natives.

Federalism of this form was the European colonialists’ answer to native resistance to foreign occupation of their land. A. V. Dicey — the committed supporter of British colonialism as well as the legal authority on English constitutional thought—identifies, in his seminal work The Law of the Constitution (1889),‘such bonds as locality, history or race’ as conditions vital for the formation of a federation.

The federal system of government established in Australia by the 1901 constitution- referred to as the Commonwealth -also had its origins in the European idea of the nation-state. Giving effect to a British Act of Parliament passed in 1900, Australia became a nation on 1 January 1901, comprising the six convict colonies –states – transferring some of their law-making powers to the new Australian Parliament. The machinery of government set up by the Australian Constitution differed from the American model in that the basic doctrines of the US Constitution — the separation of powers and legislatures of the delegates of the people — do not form prominent part of it. The stronger British influence on the Australian Constitution reflects the fact that the Australian colonisers were relatively more homogeneous unlike the American situation. The ‘Commonwealth’ essentially transformed a series of convict settlements with loyalties to the ‘mother country’ (Britain) to a federation with centralised power in Canberra.

Current state of the centre-periphery relationship in Australian federalism

The key factor in evaluating the current constitutional proposal in Sri Lanka needs to concentrate on its central idea of ‘expanded devolution’ to the regions for which, the committee does not seem to see an alternative. The original colonial form of federalism alluded to above however, provides successful examples of regional units ‘sacrificing’ power and authority for the sake of common good of the state. The constitutional arrangements of Australia and their subsequent interpretations by the Australian High Court in particular, provide the best example of the concept of regions integrating for the common good.

The Australian Constitution keeps formal distribution of powers between the central and state governments simple. Except for the list of ‘defined powers’ contained in s51 — including foreign affairs, defence and medical care — as areas in which the Australian Parliament can make laws, Australian Constitution leaves unspecified ‘residual’ powers the responsibility of state governments. These state issues in practice have been limited to the provision of community services such as schools, hospitals, criminal law, police and the roads.

However, the Commonwealth, with the powers to override state laws, within the subject matters conferred on it by the constitution, is generally regarded as the more powerful partner in the federation. The Australian Constitution provides that in cases where a law of a State Parliament is inconsistent with valid Commonwealth law, the Commonwealth law operates and the State law would be invalid.

The reach of Commonwealth power was consolidated through the decades, prompted initially by WWII and subsequently by post war reconstruction and nation building. More importantly perhaps, liberal interpretation of Commonwealth legislative and executive powers by the High Court of Australia — established in 1903 with the power to determine validity of laws under the constitution — has definitively widened the influence of the Commonwealth at the expense of the States, without any amendments to the words of the constitution. Important precedents include The Amalgamated Society of Engineers v Adelaide Steamship Co Ltd (Amalgamated Case) [(1920) 28 CLR 129], the Tasmanian Dam Case Commonwealth v Tasmania [(1983) 158 CLR1] and Work Choices Case (New South Wales v Commonwealth[(2006) 231 ALR 1].

The High Court’s landmark majority decision in the Amalgamated Case resolved the inherent tension between the concepts of ‘responsible government’ and federalism by emphasising the former and disregarding the latter, based on common sovereignty and the ‘unification’ of the Australian people by the constitution. Common and indivisible sovereignty and responsible government. In effect, the Court overturned the state’s residual powers doctrine and replaced it with an expansive interpretation of Commonwealth powers.

Currently, responsible government — shaped by party discipline and parliamentary dominance — is the core feature of the Australian polity. Federation in Australia is now seen as the means through which the political accountability of government to the people was maximised with the federal division of power left largely to the workings of the political process. Judicial intercession is warranted only in extraordinary circumstances. The legal profession unhappily views this trend as a continued expansion of the powers of the national government to the diminishment of those of the states, but the High Court has showed reluctance to develop a constitutional jurisprudence of federalism.

Centre-periphery relations in America

America presents a mixed picture of centre-periphery relations, emanating from the diverse origins of the original coloniser populations who were suspicious of each other and a strong central government empowered with taxation. During the early years of America, the states strongly disfavoured the concept of a strong central government. Such suspicion arose from the different European origins of the colonists. As a result, the Articles of Confederation ratified in 1781 — the forerunner to the constitution — conferred few powers on the national government, expressly retaining the states’, ‘sovereignty, freedom and independence’. The states kept all power, including powers to tax and regulate commerce denying the central government with revenue. In 1787, a Constitutional Convention had to be convened for the purpose of remedying the problems caused by the Articles of Confederation. A settlement on a strengthened central government, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches resulted from this process.

Federalism did not ease America’s sectional tensions. The Southern states maintained the claim that individual states were sovereign from the federal government, including the right to secede from the union if they disagreed with its policies. Abraham Lincoln disagreed however, and a serious of compromises with the southern states in the first half of the 19th century failed to prevent the Civil War. The outcome of the Civil War settled once and for all that the ultimate sovereign power of America was vested in the national government.

Further concessions to states’ rights failed to dismantle apartheid in the South. Southern separatism was subdued only by further assertions of central power—starting with the Supreme Court decision of 1954 on desegregation of schools—nominally altering the racist policies of the South. In recent years, States’ Rights campaigners have begun opposing the growth of the federal government and its recognition of social changes, based mostly on religious and social issues such as legalised abortion and ‘Obamacare’, which they see as cases of the federal government forcing states to adopt nationwide laws. Since about 2000, partisan appointments of judges to the Supreme Court have been instrumental in broadening the concept of state sovereignty and to restrict the power of the federal government in a number of domestic policy areas.

Lessons from American and Australian federalism

Socially and culturally, the contemporary 50 ‘United States’ representing keen territorial diversity has become an integrated society, due not to its constitutional arrangements, but due to unhindered interregional migration, assimilation and economic dynamism. The practical impact of the highly touted ‘checks and balances’ and ‘separation of powers’ in the American constitution are in substantial indeed, due to all such divisions being part of the same government, governed by the same set of rulers. The average municipal election in the US engages less than a third of the local electorate, and the smaller the community, the smaller the level of participation. Apart from ultra-conservative groups with extreme nationalist agendas, the states couldn’t care less about independence. The low levels of effective devolution have not impacted on national unity.

Australia is broadly similar in not succumbing to upheaval caused by declining share of states’ (provincial) rights. In addition, Australia has built a successful multicultural society by sticking to central, uncompromising policies such as the primacy of English as the national language and other measures aimed at forming a unified society in a generation or two.

The biggest issue, however, is that the constitutional steering committee in Sri Lanka appears to have been oblivious to the wider geopolitical context of devolution and federalism advocated by neo-colonial forces. Intervention of former coloniser countries on post-colonial nation states troubled by ethnic conflict through the UN, bipartisan pressure and through the NGOs financed by them, has led to many recent cases of state disintegration and the formation of new ones. This trend reversed the pattern in the number of states born in the 19th Century when empires were built by integrating formerly independent countries. The growth of small states created from the disintegration of existing states occurred on a fixed landmass, not accompanied by any need to accommodate increasing population numbers.

The downward trend in state size over the 20th century is most visible in the African continent where the states are youngest and smallest. The world-wide effect of the dissolution of the communist multinational federations in 1991 proved strong evidence that in many states, federalism was introduced as a prelude for the dissolution of the state. In the case of poorer former colonies, often coercion is used to achieve their objective of allowing regions to govern themselves, or risk international isolation and worse. Such evidence proves that federalisation is a tactical manoeuvre of neocolonialists against the unitary state, presented as a measure that would discourage secessionism by giving substantial rights to the linguistic nations or regional groups who complain of discriminated by the unitary state.

Those who offer federalism as a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic complaints need, first of all, to recognise that the concept involves more than simply ‘fracturing’ a unitary sovereign state, as the US and Australian examples offer. Secondly, they need to appreciate that the promise and practice of federalism (of the kind they seem to have in mind) are frequently at odds. A federally devolved republic does not have better capacity than a unitary state to equip citizens or their elected officials with physical or mental resources to more efficient resolving of conflicts.

In dealing with ideologically based attempts at devolution, it needs to be recognised that it is a bankrupt idea. Encouraging the formation of ethnically or language based enclaves as a means of appeasingminority political groups that do not share a strong commitment to a national cause (along the lines outlined by Dicey) will inevitably lead to disintegration of the state.

Another key factor that has escaped comment or consideration is the uniquely small territorial dimensions of Sri Lanka as a contiguous national land mass of just 65,610 km². This factor was overlooked by India when they offered the ‘solution’ of 13, based on their experience on a land mass that is exactly 50 times as large! Theory and evidence indicate that size of a territory, defined as a governed by a single political unit is intimately linked to long-term equilibrium combinations of size and political institutions. And Sri Lanka hardly lends itself for division into smaller units.

It needs to be recognised that national reconciliation in Sri Lanka is hindered by the missing vital ingredient of commitment among political classes to build a strong state with the economic wherewithal to provide all citizens decent health, education and defence against foreign domination — without discrimination along ethnic or other grounds — rather than lack of regional autonomy. Sri Lanka’s political system is currently dominated by the majority community politicians motivated by power, specifically the perks that come with power, and minority politicians who seem to thrive on exploiting acrimony (based on exaggerated claims of unfair treatment) to achieve same ends. Further devolution of power in such circumstances can only lead to disaster in the form of secession.

In conclusion, it must be remembered that when, on 1 March 1990, the provincial administration of EPRLF Chief Minister Varadaraja Perumal declareda free and sovereign Democratic Republic of Elam, the Sri Lankan government had the powers to dissolve the provincial council and impose direct rule. The current proposal leaves no such options, and seems to suggest prayers to our political masters of America to save us.

3 Responses to “Needed: Responsible govt. not federalism”

  1. Vaisrawana Says:

    Thank you, Dr Kamal Wickremasinghe, for this valuable contribution to the current unitary Vs federal controversy. You are fulfilling the social/national responsibility of a true intellectual. Responsible government – a more respectable term than ‘good governance’ (a term sullied beyond recognition by its linguistic association with the perfidious ‘yahapalanaya’) – is, as you argue, what we need, not federalism, which the reasonable majority of the common people of all communities in Sri Lanka do not demand.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Sri Lanka is already a federal nation.

    It has not given the nation any benefit. Federalism added a new layer, more wastage and corruption. Even Tamils don’t want federalism. What they want is a more powerful extortion tool to terrorise the government and Sinhala people to get more and more parasitic demands. The new constitution does just that.

    A time will come not too long into future when Sinhala people will say yes to Tamil Eelam provided all Tamils in the island enjoy living in Tamil Eelam. That will do heaps of good for the rest.

  3. Senerath Says:

    “Responsible government” ? WORTH READING THIS.

    Samuel says ‘I don’t know’ who RK, AM, Hon PM are

    The Bond Commission today observed that the personal Assistant of Arjun Aloysius, Steve Samuel was lying before the Commission and said that in the event they found him to be doing so “appropriate action would be taken against him”.

    Justice Prasanna Jayawardena made this remark after Samuel repeatedly denied any knowledge of the contents of the text messages sent by him which referred to RK, AM, Arjun M, Ravi K, Hon PM, A Mahendran and Ravi Karunanayake.

    “No I don’t know” he said each time he was questioned on the text messages by Dr. Avanthi Perera Senior State Counsel.

    At the end of the evidence Justice Jayawardena sarcastically said: “ We would like to have him (Samuel ) educate us on how to forget things. You know it’s a remarkable skill”

    At the onset of the yesterday’s proceedings, Arjun Aloysius’ personal assistant, Steve Samuel testified before the Commission regarding several text messages and e-mails which were extracted from Aloysius’ phone by the CID.

    These text messages and e-mails had been sent by Steve Samuel to his boss, Aloysius.

    According to the witness, Samuel had joined Perpetual Capital Holdings in November 2016 and had served as the personal assistant of Arjun Aloysius and thereafter Geoffrey Aloysius.

    Senior State Counsel Dr. Avanti Perera questioned the witness showing several text messages and emails.

    Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: These text messages were sent by you, right?

    Witness Steve Samuel: I cannot recall exactly.

    Then the senior state counsel read the first text message.

    Witness: Yes, that was a text message sent by me to Aloysius.

    Text message 1 (Serial number 8309) – Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 28, 2016
    “Reminder to request Hon PM and RK to get a copy of the monetary board meeting/papers need to be submitted today 28…”

    Senior State Counsel Dr. Avanti Perera: This message was sent by you, right?

    Witness: I cannot recall exactly. But I think I got a call from the general line that day and I was asked to send this message.

    Justice Prasanna Jayawardena: Who called you through the general line?

    Witness: I cannot recall that exactly at this moment.

    Justice Jayawardena: Was it Arjun Aloysius or anybody else?

    W: I don’t know. Honestly I cannot remember.

    At this moment, when Counsel Chanaka de Silva asked the Commission whether the date of the text message was relevant with the proceedings, Justice Jayawardena said “This was the date on which some event happened”.

    Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda at this moment said “the day was relating to Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. And that was the day that regulatory decisions had been taken against PTL by the CBSL.”

    At this moment the witness said that he had no clue whatsoever regarding the company activities of the PTL and he just noted down things only that were asked to be done by Aloysius.

    Justice Jayawardena replying said that nobody would blame him doing his job as the personal assistant of Aloysius and the Commission only requires him to answer the questions precisely.

    Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Do you understand what the abbreviation “Hon PM” stands for?

    W: No

    Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: If I suggest to you that it was the Prime Minister, would you accept that?

    W: I cannot accept that because I didn’t know what that meant, so, I cannot comment on that.

    Senior State Counsel Dr Avanti Perera: Would you know what abbreviation ‘RK’ stood for?

    W: No

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, your position is you received instructions through the general phone line and you noted them down and sent back to Aloysius, right?

    W: Yes

    Text message 2 (Serial number 9039) – Samuel to Aloysius- Date : December 1, 2016
    “GM Chairman, hope you had a very good meeting with ‘RK’, just update when you and I can meet before you leave tonight…

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now, in this text message you have mentioned “hope you had a very good meeting with RK”. Is it your position still that you don’t know who ‘RK’ is?

    W: No. I don’t know

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Could you explain why you would say ‘hope you had a good meeting’?

    W: That is the normal way I asked as the personal assistant

    Justice Jayawardena: obviously, you would have known that Aloysius was having a meeting with Mr. RK or Mrs RK, right?

    W: I don’t know whether it was Mr. or Mrs.

    Justice Jayawardena: As a primary dealer, Aloysius would have dealt with the Ministry of Finance regularly, right?

    W: That I don’t know. He doesn’t tell me about his meetings. And I have never gone to his meetings.

    Justice Jayawardena: So, in any event you knew that Aloysius had a meeting with some RK, right?

    W: Yes

    J: Who could be that significant ‘RK’?

    W: That I don’t know

    Text message 3 (Serial number 6364) –Aloysius to Samuel- Date :
    “Steve please remind me to talk to ‘RK’ on two matters when I meet him tomorrow
    1. PPP units set up
    2. Two meetings with PM tomorrow at 4 with US treasurer”

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who ‘RK’ is?

    W: No

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who ‘PM’ is?

    W: No

    Justice Jayawardena: PPP stands for Public Private Partnerships, was that correct?

    Witness in a hesitant manner said that he doesn’t know.

    Justice Jayawardena: This text message says about a meeting with US treasurer. So, who would meet US Treasurer?

    W: I don’t know I was not in this country before I joined the job. (He said he was a cabin crew staff employee of an airline in the Middle East for 25 years)

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: In your statement given to the police at the Commission’s premises you have responded to a question as to who was ‘PM’ and ‘RK.’ You had said that ‘I’m not sure but perhaps it could be the Hon. Prime Minister’, so now would you accept that it was Prime Minister?

    W: I can’t accept it. That is why I had said ‘perhaps’, because I don’t know. Nobody told me that PM is Hon. Prime Minister.

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Anyway, would you accept that ‘RK’ and ‘PM’ are persons with whom Aloyius had contacts?

    W: Because as per my messages it looks so (in a hesitant manner told).

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Who else would stand for ‘PM’ in your opinion?

    W: I would not know. I just noted abbreviations pointed out by Aloysius.

    At this point perusing the forensic extraction document Justice Prasanna Jayawardena in a sarcastic manner added amusement to the query asking the witness “Who is this Rohitha Abeygoonawardena? Who would that be? RA?

    Text message 4 and an E-mail correspondence (Serial number 4050) –Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 6, 2016
    Reminder: follow up meeting with Ravi Karunanayake at 9 a.m.

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: What are the initials of that person in this text message?

    Witness was silent and perusing the document the State Counsel again asked

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: What are the two letters in that name?
    Witness was not answering

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Was that RK, right?

    W: Yes

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now looking at this message would you be able to refer RK to the same person as Ravi Karunanayake?

    W: I cannot acknowledge that because how would I know. I was given only abbreviations as ‘RK’ but here it was told to me as Ravi Karunanayake so I mentioned it

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now, here Aloysius was going to have a follow up meeting with Ravi Karunanayake, so it was a follow up meeting, right? There would have been a meeting before that, right?

    W: He has told me to give a reminder about a follow up meeting which I did

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who Ravi Karunanayake is in this country?

    W: At the moment yes. He was the former Finance Minister.

    Two text messages 5 & 6 (Serial numbers 4020 and 4023) –Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 8, 2016

    Serial numbers 4020

    Reminder: Next meeting at 7 a.m. with ‘Ravi K’

    Serial numbers 4023 (same text)

    Reminder: Next meeting at 7 a.m. with ‘Ravi K’

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: These messages were sent by you, right?

    W: Yes

    Text message 7 –Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 9, 2016
    Ravi K tonight…

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Is this message correct?

    W: Yes

    Text message 8 (Serial number 3842)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 17, 2016
    Reminder a meeting with RK at 7.30 pm

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now it appears that Arjun Aloysius had met RK or Ravi Karunanayake whoever that may be, on several times in November 2016, is that correct?

    W: Yes

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know what those meetings were about?

    W: No

    Text message 9 (Serial number 3769)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016

    Reminder: I do have it on my notes for today RK/ TO DO LIST

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you have any idea what this list was?

    W: No

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who constructed the RK list?

    W: No

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, it was not by you?

    W: No

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: If that list was not prepared by you, then it appears that this already existed before you came into employment at PTL, is that correct?

    W: That I cannot comment

    Text message 10 (Serial number 3766)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016

    We have the ‘A Mahendran’ to do list

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who this ‘A Mahendran’ was?

    W: Anjali Mahendran (daughter of Arjuna Mahendran and the wife of Aloysius)

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: You are very sure about that, right?

    W: Yes

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, in this case you are very familiar with the abbreviation as opposed to ‘RK’, right?

    W: I know Anjali Mahendran

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: But this says ‘A Mahendran’?

    W: I call her A Mahendran

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So you call her face to face A Mahendran was it?

    W: No. I meant when I note it down

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: And would that be the only person that you would write in abbreviation as ‘A Mahendran’?

    W: Yes

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, since you are very familiar with this Anjali Mahendran, what is this ‘to do list to Anjali Mahendran’?

    At this point President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne objected to the question and said that was something relating to his client’s wife.

    The Commission also emphasized that it has nothing to do with the matters relating to Aloysius and his wife.

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know the name of Anjali Mahendran’s father?

    W: Arjuna Mahendran

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, could it not be him?

    W: I don’t know because I don’t do any correspondence for Arjuna Mahendran

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: That is so, but this appears to be a file you are reminding Arjun Aloysius about? Anyway we will come to that.

    Text message 11 (Serial number 3754)–Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016

    Chairman, awaiting an update on today ‘to do list for Arjuna M’ and ‘RK’

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now, this text message says ‘Arjuna M’, In this case who would be ‘Arjuna M’?

    W: I don’t know

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Didn’t you just say that you are aware of the father of Anjali Mahendran is Arjuna Mahendran?

    W: Yes

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, would this not be reference to Arjun Mahendran?

    W: This just says ‘Arjuna M’ so I cannot admit that it was Arjuna Mahendran

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, when it was A Mahendran you are familiar that it was Anjali Mahendran but when it was ‘Arjuna M’ you do not know who that was, is that your position?

    W: Yes

    Text message 12 Samuel to Aloysius- Date : November 22, 2016

    Legal letter to be delivered to Hon. PM’s office

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Again is that your position that you don’t know who ‘Hon. PM’ is?

    W: No

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you what ‘Hon.’ Stands for in the abbreviation?

    W: Not clearly

    Justice Jayawardena: Now, you have worked with Aloysius for the last few years, right? Other than the time period you were in hospital, you would have worked with Aloysius, right?

    W: Yes

    Justice Jayawardena: You would have been talking with him on what things to done for him as well, right?

    W: Yes

    Justice Jayawardena: And you would have also told him that you were summoned to give evidence as well, right?

    W: Yes

    Justice Jayawardena: And he knew that you were coming to give evidence and we were told that you were here through PTL, right?

    W: Yes

    Text message 13 (Serial number 3139) Samuel to Aloysius- Date : January 3, 2017
    Meeting at 10 p.m. with ‘RK’/new to do list file and ‘AM to do list file’ will be sent home

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Is this Aloysius’ home you are referring to?

    W: Yes

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Would that be around Flower Road?

    W: Yes

    Text message 13 (Serial number 3125) Samuel to Aloysius- Date : January 3, 2017
    I’m just leaving office and going to your flower road residence to deliver both ‘AM’ and ‘RK’ files and try to catch ‘Dilshad’ at the Ministry

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Who is ‘Dilshad’ at the Ministry whom you were trying to catch?

    W: Friend of mine and he was in the Ministry of Finance

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know what the designation of him is?

    W: He was an assistant

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Whose?

    W: Not sure. But he was at the Finance Ministry

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: And the Finance Minister at that time was Ravi Karunanayake, right?

    W: Yes

    Text message 14 (Serial number 3082) Aloysius to Samuel- Date : January 4, 2017
    Did you by any chance managed to locate the old RK file

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, it appears to be an old file, right?

    W: It appears to be. But I have not been exposed to these files.

    Text message 15 (Serial number 3123) Samuel to Aloysius- Date : January 4, 2017
    Just saw you at Ministry dashing into the elevator have a great meeting

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: So, would that be again at the Ministry of Finance?

    Witness was silent

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Because you referred ‘Dilshad’ at the Ministry.

    W: Could be the Finance Ministry

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now you say ‘just saw you’, would that be Aloysius?

    W: I’m not sure

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: You say ‘Have a great meeting’, so do you know what that meeting was about?

    W: No

    Text message 16 (Serial number 3111) Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January

    Good luck with the RK meeting and I hope Mr. Arjuna has a good meeting in this evening……I saw Governor Coomaraswami at the Ministry waiting for the meeting with RK then I saw Arjuna getting into lift….

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Who is this Arjuna?

    W: I don’t know

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: You say ‘good meeting’

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Now who is this Lasantha (his name transpired earlier and was a Personal Assistant at the Finance Ministry)?

    W: I don’t know

    Justice Jayawardena: Now, all these texts are from your phone, right?

    W: Yes

    Justice Jayawardena: You have no doubt about that, right?

    W: I cannot recall them exactly

    Justice Jayawardena: These are extracted from your phone, so at the time you sent these messages you knew what you were talking about, right?

    W: Yes

    Text message 17 (Serial number) Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
    As per ‘Dilshad’ there is no London trip scheduled anywhere

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Whose schedule are you referring?

    Witness was silent

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Could that be the Minister of Finance?

    W: Not sure

    At this moment Justice Jayawardena asked Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda to put the relevant text messages to the witness as he had admitted that he had sent them.

    “Now witness admits that he had originated the text messages and sent them to Aloysius, so are we to now blindly accept the fact that he had sent them without knowing the meaning of the content”, ASG Kodagoda asked.

    Justice Jayawardena: It is very clear to us exactly who he was talking about.

    ASG Kodagoda: And he is lying under oath.

    Justice Jayawardena: We will take the appropriate steps on that.

    ASG Kodagoda: If the commission is so aware of the fact that he is misleading the Commission, then it would be fine.

    Justice Jayawardena: It is very clear.

    ASG Kodagoda: That, he is lying.

    Justice Jayawardena: That we cannot say now, because that would accuse us for prejudging, but his evidence is very clear.

    Justice Jayawardena then questioned the witness again and asked whether he knew at the time he was sending these messages about the content and the people he was referring to. The witness’ answer was affirmative. The witness also said that he cannot recall them at the moment.

    Text message 18 (Serial number 3130) Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
    Meeting with Saman Indika Kumara at 5.30 p.m.

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who Saman Indika Kumara was? (former EPF dealer who was interdicted later)

    W: No

    Justice Jayawardena: Now, Saman Kumara’s name transpired eight or nine times in these text messages, surely you would know who he was?

    W: No

    Justice Jayawardena: Haven’t you read the news papers recently?

    W: Not really

    Justice Jayawardena: You don’t read newspapers?

    W: No

    Justice Jayawardena: Are you aware that Saman Kumara was working at EPF?

    W: No

    Justice Jayawardena: Be aware that you are giving evidence under oath and be cautious of the fact that if you lied under oath and if we found that we will take appropriate actions.

    W: I’m not lying

    Text message 19 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
    Saman is already in the office to meet with you at 3.30 p.m

    Justice K.T. Chitrasiri: But anyway this text message shows that a person called Saman Kumara had come to visit Aloysius but you don’t know him?

    W: Yes

    Text message 20 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January

    Reminder: 5.30 P.M. a meeting with AM and ‘Lasantha’ at flower road residency

    Text message 21 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January 6
    A meeting with Saman Kumara

    At this moment after perusing the extraction further, Justice Jayawardena asked the witness: Who is this Ravi Karunamurthi?

    W: Don’t know

    Justice Jayawardena: He also had met Arjun Aloysius many times, was he a primary dealer?

    W: I don’t know

    Justice Jayawardena: Who is Chanuka Ratwatte, who had met with Aloysius many times? Was he the man who owns the ‘Entrust’ (Primary Dealer)

    W: I don’t know

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: In summary, on several times in January 2017, former EPF dealer Saman Kumara had been scheduled to meet Aloysius, right?

    Witness didn’t answer.

    Text message 21 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January 6
    Update- Saman Kumara stated you need him to speak with chairman of lotteries board asked if you would be making the meeting or ….

    Justice K.T. Chitrasiri: Now this says that Saman Kumara stated, so stated to whom? He spoke to you, right?

    W: Yes

    Justice Jayawardena: Who was Saman Kumara?

    W: I don’t know (Justices smiled in a sarcastic manner)

    Text message 22 Samuel to Aloysius 2017 January
    Important meeting with Naveen

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Do you know who Naveen is?

    W: No

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Have you ever heard of a person called Naveen Anuradha (NSB dealer)?

    W: No

    E-mail correspondence – Samuel to Aloysius 2017 March 29
    Subject: Meeting boss/RK/reminder/proposed auction for the week

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: What is this proposed auction?

    W: I don’t know

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera was of the view that there was a Treasury-bill auction on March 29 and a treasury-bond auction on April 4, 2017.

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: Finally, do you not say that Aloysius had meetings and exchanges of documents relating to business transactions of PTL with the person by the name of ‘RK’, ‘Hon PM’, ‘AM’, broader reference to those names would be Ravi Karunanayake, Prime Minster and Arjuna Mahendran also appears in these text messages including dealers like Saman Indika Kumara, right?

    W: I can’t admit that because I don’t know the PTL’s trading deals

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera: But you arranged these meetings

    W: That was my job

    Justice Jayawardena: You wrote these text messages on instructions of Aloysius and other people regarding the meetings and other activities of Arjun Aloysius, where he meets RK, AM, PM, right?

    W: Yes

    J: So, There is no reason to believe such things did not happen, right?

    W: Yes

    J: At any point did Aloysius dispute that these meetings were rubbish?

    W: No

    J: Who maintained the RK and AM files?

    W: I don’t know

    J: Definitely that is within the knowledge of Arjun Aloysius, right?

    W: Yes probably

    J: Therefore, Arjun Aloysius maintained files under RK and AM

    At this point Dr Avanti Perera pointing another text message showed to the Commission to verify the fact that the witness was lying.

    Samuel to Aloysius

    Saman Kumara could not contacted so a message copied to Amal’s phone too

    SSC Dr Avanti Perera told the Commission at this point that Amal is the brother of Saman Kumara.

    After the questioning of the Attorney General’s Department concluded, Counsel Chanaka de Silva who appeared on behalf of Arjuna Mahendran drew the attention of the Commission to text messages in the extracted report reflecting about a meeting that had been taken place with Arjun Aloysius and current Governor Coomaraswami as well.

    Counsel Jeewantha Jayatilleke, who was appearing on behalf of Steve Samuel, then moved to explain the current situation of the witness as Samuel’s mother had been admitted to Durdens Hospital over a minor stroke.

    At this moment, when he was questioned by his counsel about his mother, Steve Samuel broke down into sobs while sitting in the witness dock. Samuel said that he is the only person who is there to take care of his family as his brother is handicapped.
    Samuel pleaded that he was unaware about the names that transpired in the text messages as he had only done what he was asked to do.

    He also said that he had not maintained any of files on behalf of PTL hence there was no file in the custody of him at the moment.

    After the conclusion of the evidence of Steve Samuel, while he was getting off from the witness dock, Justice Prasanna Jayawardena in a sarcastic manner quipped to Samuel’s Counsel “Bring him (Samuel) here one day to educate us also on how to forget things, it’s a remarkable talent”

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